A man's shadow falls over a bomb with a timer.

A New Wait: My Skin Cancer Scare

The extraction of my tooth had barely registered when the dentist leaned down and said, “Have you had that spot on your nose long?” Without waiting for a response, she continued, “My dad had a spot like that and it was skin cancer. I see in your chart you have had cancer. I am not a dermatologist, but if it were me, I would have that looked at sooner than later.”

She was not done

I took in a breath, prepared to respond only to realize she was not done. She leaned in again, as if proximity would yield heretofore unknown knowledge of the offending spot, “Yes, I would have this looked at soon. My dad did very well when we caught these spots early. Not so much when he ignored them. I’m no dermatologist but I would...here, let me write you an order for a follow-up with your family physician.”

A bomb dropped on me out of no where

A hasty swipe of a pen. The tear of a sheet of paper from a pad and she was off. I have no memory of a time I was happier to see a human being leave my reach. 30 seconds, 45 tops, and I was unhinged. She was a total whirlwind. A tornado, without warning, no warning siren, no signs in the sky. Nothing, just an unprovoked BOMB!

I want to forget cancer

On a cerebral level, I get the concern and the willingness to step up and make the hard announcement. I want to commend her and thank her. Nope! I want to tell her to stick to my teeth and mind her business. I don’t want to be on this hamster wheel again. Really, I want to forget cancer and testing and possible outcomes. I want to be naive and blissfully ignorant.

I want to go home

I want to make it out of the clinic without tearing up. I want to go home and...I don’t know, but I want to be home, safe and quiet. The nurse knows my wife Janet and me and offers to call her and tell her about the need for a doctor’s appointment. I could have done it, but I handed her my phone and said, “Thank you.”

By the time I got home, the appointment had been made. 5 PM the following night, I would be sitting in yet another doctor’s office waiting to hear if this dot on my nose was going to be something or nothing.

The wait felt long

I didn’t sleep well, tossing and turning all night. Work went slow. Luckily, I drive and so I have plenty to focus on. The day seemed long, but I made it through and headed home for a shower and some clean clothes. Before I was ready, it was time to go. Janet came with me and brought the grandbaby for moral support.

Doc had a look and then a second and third. “I don’t know, maybe, maybe pre-cancer, maybe nothing. I think we will do a biopsy and be safe.” Nothing like a rock-solid, definitive, shoulder shrug.

Now I wait

Now I mull over all of the possibilities and outcomes. Most of all, I just hold my breath and wait. This is where “Cancer Sucks” becomes personal.

I will wait and hope and...wait.

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